Max Costa

Max Costa. Ph.D.
Professor; Program Director of Perlmutter Cancer Center;
Chairman
Departments of Environmental Medicine (Chair), Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Sterling Forest, Room 208
57 Old Forge Road
Office: 845-731-3515
Lab: 845-731-3523
Email: max.costa@nyumc.org

KEY INTERESTS:
Epigenetics, carcinogenesis, regulation of transcription, chromatin structure and dynamics

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS:

Graduate Education:          PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Arizona Medical School (1976)
Postdoctoral Training: Research Associate, Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson AZ (1976-1977)
Academic Appointments: 1977-79: Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
1979-80: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX
1980-81: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, TX
1985-86: Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of Pharmacology, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, TX
1985-86: Professor (with tenure), Department of Pharmacology, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, TX
1986-93: Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University Medical Center
1986-present: Professor of Environmental Medicine and Pharmacology (with tenure), New York University Medical Center
1993-present: Professor and Chairman, Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine
1993-present: Director, The Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine
2002-present: Program Leader, Environmental and Molecular Carcinogenesis Program, Perlmutter Cancer Center an NCI funded Cancer Center

MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES:
Professor and Chairman, Department of Environmental Medicine
Director, Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine
Program Leader, Environmental and Molecular Carcinogenesis, Perlmutter Cancer Center
Director of Center of Excellence in Environmental Health Sciences from NIEHS

RESEARCH INTERESTS:
Ni ions cause an increase in DNA methylation we believe by inhibiting Fe dependent histone demethylases such as those responsible for demethylating H3K9 mono and dimethyl. This results in gene silencing. Nickel ions also inhibit the Jarid-1 family of histone demethylases which result in an increase in H3K4 trimethylation causing genes to be turned on. The dioxygenase superfamily of enzymes are the major targets for nickel ions in cells and one member of this family are the Prolyl Hydroxylases that cause Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF-1 alpha) to be degraded. Inhibition of these dioxygenases by nickel ions stabilizes HIF-1 alpha and turns on or off all HIF-1 alpha dependent genes. We have used ChIP-on-chip as well as ChIP-seq to map the H3K4 trimethylation changes in the genome and correlated this with RNA expression using RNA-seq. We have determined the binding constant of JHDM2A for Ni ions to be 1.7uM which is three times better than that for Fe which is bound to the active site of the enzyme. Using X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy we have determined that Ni ions bind in place of Fe to exactly the same ligands as Fe in the active site of the enzyme.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

LAB MEMBERS:
Hong Sun, Research Assistant Professor
Thomas Kluz, Research Technician
Yana Chervona, Graduate Student
Lisa Passantino, Graduate Student
Hailey Clancy, Graduate Student
Jason Brocato Graduate Student
Alexandra Munoz, Graduate Student
Hsiang-Chi Tseng, Graduate Student